WHAT WE DO
The Open Learning Initiative (OLI) is a grant-funded group
at Carnegie Mellon University, offering innovative online
courses to anyone who wants to learn or teach. Our aim is to create
high-quality courses and contribute original research to improve
learning and transform higher education.
How Did The Open Learning Initiative Get Started?
The first grant that firmly established OLI resulted from
conversations held between Carnegie Mellon representatives and Mike
Smith and Cathy Casserly from the William and Flora Hewlett
Foundation in the fall of 2001. Smith and Casserly were visiting
many institutions across the US, after having just funded MIT’s
Open Courseware project, looking for the next “big thing” in online
The concept of the Open Learning Initiative came from the idea
of integrating Carnegie Mellon’s expertise in
cognitive tutoring into whole online courses that
would stand on their own and enact instruction. By 2002, a proposal
had been written and funded by the William and Flora Hewlett
Foundation to develop our first four courses: Causal and
Statistical Reasoning, Statistics, Logic & Proofs, and
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